Lawmakers in the Sunshine State want to crack down on street takeovers amid growing concerns in Miami and other Florida cities.
Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, the bill’s sponsor, and the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 876 on Jan. 12, citing an increased number of injuries and fatalities connected to the recent spike in street takeovers. The bill is now in the Criminal Justice Committee.
A street takeover, which is a relatively recent phenomenon, is defined as the taking over of a street, highway, or roadway by stopping or slowing down traffic to perform burnouts, donuts, drifting, wheelies, drag racing and other illegal activities. Stunt driving, on the other hand, means to perform any activity on the roadway which will likely interfere with other drivers.
“SB 876 provides that a person may not drive any motor vehicles in any street takeover or stunt driving on any highway, roadway, or parking lot; participate in a street takeover or stunt driving; knowingly ride as a passenger in a street takeover or stunt driving; cause the movement of traffic to slow or stop for a street takeover or stunt driving; and be a spectator at a street takeover,” the Transportation Committee states in its bill analysis and fiscal impact statement.
If SB 876 is approved, it would be listed as a first-degree misdemeanor and could lead to a one-year suspension of the driver’s license.
In addition, an officer may arrest and take the person into custody without a warrant.
“With most misdemeanors, a law enforcement officer has to witness the infraction to make an arrest without a warrant, but the bill would allow arrests based on video or other evidence even if an officer doesn’t see it firsthand,” Pizzo told the Tallahassee Democrat.
Although law enforcement has had its hands full dealing with numerous complaints by residents in the surrounding cities, there are still people who genuinely love the thrill of performing motor stunts and want to continue to do so.
For instance, car enthusiasts such as Lukas Lopez, a 904 Banditz car club member in Jacksonville, believes the city would be in a much better place if only Florida provided a safe and legal way for the members to meet up and perform stunts.
“There are cities like Atlanta, Detroit, or even Orlando, that has their own racetrack and burnout pit where it is safe for the people, it is legal for the city,” Lopez told a News4Jax reporter.
While Lopez can see the fun and beauty in a street takeover, the state seems to have seen enough deaths involved with the recent phenomenon.